DryErase Girl and the wonder of postmodernity

elyse porterfieldA host of reputable internet news sites and just about everyone on FaceBook was suckered by a story of a young woman who quit her job by means of messages drawn on a dry-erase board, and supposedly sent to the whole office. Her resignation involved exposing her boss’ sexism, body odour and hypocrisy, most tellingly ridiculing him for wasting half his work-week playing Farmville. You can see the original post here: The Chive

This creative and funny resignation made ‘Jenny’ an over-night hit, but very soon it was uncovered that it was all just another attention-getting scam. Her real name is Elyse, she is an actress, and the boss from hell doesn’t exist.

Although the creators of this post claim it was merely aimed at entertainment, scamming people in this way is a betrayal of trust. That is a good thing in some ways, because it at least teaches us that we should not believe everything we read. Some skepticism is essential, as it alerts us to the danger of trusting someone who stands to gain from our trust. And yet on the other hand, society is founded on a degree of mutual trust. A default basis of trust is important to most of the transactions within society, and betrayal of trust is destructive of that basis. This, I take it, is one reason why we send people to prison for theft, rather than just forcing them to repay what was taken. The damage done to society by abusing trust is greater than the individual loss of an item. So it is stupid for hoaxes like this to be propagated, because they engender skepticism where it doesn’t belong, and they breed a sense of alienation from our world and each other. Like the boy who cried wolf, the lie is easy to sell, because it is of such minor benefit to the liar, but it starts a precedent that is ultimately of severe harm to society.

Will postmodernism please just go away now?
TechCrunch reported about this DryErase Girl scam after securing an interview with its creator, serial hoaxer Leo Resig. In true postmodern fashion, he told them that people “want to believe.” He continued:

The purpose of the hoax was to entertain and inspire, not to inform, so what difference does it make if the story has a single ounce of truth?

Postmodern thinking is comfortable in belief that is divorced from reality. I wonder how it is possible to root belief in a known lie. What is Leo asking me to believe exactly?

Beyond that, the entertainment value of this post lies in the humiliation of an evil boss who (among other things) monitors office internet use, but hypocritically spends half his week on lame internet games. If it’s not true, there is no quick-witted Jenny, no humiliation, no Farmville abuse, and none of the consequences for any of this that a real-life version would elicit. What we’re left with is a snap-shot of a sitcom cliche. It’s extremely doubtful that many of us find sitcom cliches entertaining at all, but I’m certain even fewer of us would find this concoction funny if we knew that it was fiction.

And really, Leo, the purpose was to inspire? Even if we had bought into this as fiction, ‘Jenny’ is not especially inspirational. But having set it up as reality, as an act with human consequences, its ability to inspire depends entirely upon it’s having loads of ounces of truth.

Once again, postmodernism gives people the vocabulary to babble about not needing to connect a person’s inner world with the world outside us, and it’s complete garbage. Let’s do each other a favour today and kick an emperor’s-new-clothes postmodernist in the shins.

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One thought on “DryErase Girl and the wonder of postmodernity

  1. LG says:

    Yes I agree. It is most disconcerting to read such stories that are almost believable, and then discover that it is a hoax, someone has been deliberately lying. It makes people highly suspicious and disbelieving of others, and we are not supposed to be thus, are we? I always check any ‘amazing almost unbelievable story’ out against website hoax-slayer and have discovered the most amazing hoaxes that people believe and forward thousands of time around the world based on someone’s idea of misleading others for ‘fun’..:((

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